Excerpt from Shadow and Light by Jonathan Rabb, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Shadow and Light

A Novel

by Jonathan Rabb

Shadow and Light
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 384 pages
    Mar 2010, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Joanne Collings

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

He brought the car down onto the grass and reached over for the two yellow flags he kept in the glove compartment. It was a pointless exercise—six meters in front, six meters behind—but someone had taken great pains to devise die Verkehrsnotverfahren (emergency traffic procedures), the totality of which filled a full eight pages in the bureau's slender handbook on automobile operation: Who was he to question their essentialness? The flags blew aimless warning to the deserted road as Hoffner lay on his back and pulled himself under.

Surprisingly, everything looked to be in working order. Various metal shafts stretched across at odd angles. Metal boxes to hold other metal things were bolted to iron casings, and while there were two or three wires hanging down from their protective covers—each wrapped in some sort of black adhesive—nothing appeared to be torn or strained or even mildly put out. The wood above was worn but whole, and the tires looked somehow thicker from this vantage point.

Hoffner imagined much the same might have been said of his own fifty-three-year-old frame: shoulders still wide even if the barrel chest was relocating south with ever-increasing speed. He caught sight of a line of blurred handwriting on one of the tires and slowly inched his way over. Closer in, the scrawl became Frankreich, Süd, 26117-7-6, Vichy.

Hoffner smiled. These had been slated for reparations, not surplus, and yet somehow—just somehow—they had failed to make it across the border. In fact, very little these days was making it to the French or English or Belgians or Italians—how the Italians had managed to get in on the spoils, having sided with the Kaiser up through 1915, still puzzled him—except, of course, for the great waves of money. There, things were decidedly different. The French might have been willing to turn a blind eye to a few tires ending up in the service of Berlin's police corps, but if so much as a single pfennig of repayments, or interest on repayments, or interest on the loans taken out to pay for the interest on those repayments went missing, then came the cries from Paris for the occupation of the Rhine and beyond. It was a constant plea in the papers from the ever-teetering Social Democrats to keep our new allies happy, keep the payments flowing out, no matter how many times the mark had to be revalued or devalued or carted around like so many reams of waste tissue just to pay for a bit of bread. Luckily, the worst of it was behind them now, or so said those same papers: who cared if Versailles and its treaty were beginning to prompt some rather unpleasant responses from points far right? Odd, but Hoffner had always thought Vichy in the north.

He slid out, planted himself on the running board, and flipped open his flask. The Hungarians, thank God, had remained loyal to the Kaiser up to the bitter end: little chance, then, of a shortage on slivovitz anytime soon. He took a swig of the brandy and stared out into the green wood as a familiar burning settled in at the back of his throat. A trio of wild boar was digging up the ground no more than twenty meters off. They were a dark brown, and their haunches looked fat and muscular. These had done well to keep the meat on during the winter. The smallest turned and cocked its head as it stared back. No hint of fear, it stood unwavering. Clearly, it knew it was not its place to cede ground. Hoffner marveled at the misguided certainty.

He tossed back a second drink just as a goose-squawk horn rang out from the road. Hoffner turned to see a prewar delivery truck pulling up, its open back packed with small glass canisters, each filled with some sort of blue liquid. Hoffner wondered if perhaps he might have failed to hear about an imminent hair tonic shortage, but the man who stepped from the cab quickly put all such concerns to rest. He was perfectly bald, with a few stray wisps of black matted down above the ears. Hoffner stood as he approached.

Excerpted from Shadow and Light by Jonathan Rabb. Copyright © 2009 by Jonathan Rabb. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Stalin's Daughter
    by Rosemary Sullivan
    "There is something fatal about my life. You can't regret your fate, though I do regret my ...
  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!


Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!